One could say that Hubster and I are obsessed with Mexican cuisine. And...while we certainly enjoy our hometown options of The Mex and Cantina...whenever we can get out of Dodge for an afternoon, we meander over to Xicohtencatl, in Great Barrington, Mass. WHY would we travel over an hour for margaritas and guacamole you ask? Simple. Because Xicohtencatl has some of THE best and freshest authentic Mexican cuisine we've enjoyed...anywhere...EVER. The brightly painted porch beckons you from the road and the MUY simpatico staff, very often the OWNER, welcome you with charm and GENUINE smiles. Yes..here at Xicohtencatl...they are VERY happy to see you and even happier to feed you.
We dine on the porch whenever we can, but the temps were a touch chilly last Saturday, so we were escorted to a perfectly roomy table for 2 in the dining area.
The first order of business was the DRINK order. Hello...have we met.
A margarita is definitely required as your peruse their extensive menu, as well as the specials of the day. That is...IF you can decide which margarita you would like from their numerous offerings. I began with a Prickly Pear Margarita...mostly because it's not always available...and...because...well...it's PINK.
VERY pink indeed. Hubster always vacillates between 2 spicier margarita options here. He went with the El Diablo to begin...with muddled jalapeno and GOOD Reposado tequila...in this case, Milagro. My prickly pear usually is served with Patron...but...I DO not like Patron and chose Cabo Wabo Reposado instead. Much better. In fact...while I am on the subject...ALL you people who "only" drink "Patron"? YOU, my friends, are missing OUT on a world of far better tasting..just not better MARKETED tequilas. Not convinced? Fine...more for me. End rant and ON to the food.
While I do like to sample different dishes when we have the opportunity to visit Xico, one item on our order NEVER changes...the guacamole. We order it EVERY time, and EVERY time, we are thrilled with it. Don't like cilantro? Don't order it...or perhaps ask if it may be prepared sans cilantro. The service is so accommodating here, they will most likely honor any special requests. Personally, I LOVE the little green herb. The seasoning is just perfect...the ideal amount of spice...a little kick of heat from jalapeno...a little tang from fresh lime...yum. Aside from my OWN, it is my favorite guac. Served in a molcajete, which really just enhances the experience.
In addition to the guac as a starter, we chose one of their appetizer specials for that evening, a spicy Chicken Tinga Quesadilla, topped with more guac, crema fresca, and queso blanco. They make their own masa tortillas here and it makes all the difference in the world for flavor and freshness. AS you can see from the photo...we ate it so quickly, I neglected to snap a pic before it was almost gone.
The first dish that I ever had at Xicohtencatl was their Pollo Poblano. Organic chicken, cooked with poblano chile, onions and crema fresca with a smooth and subtle spice blend. I liked it so much on our first visit that I immediately tried to duplicate in my own test kitchen. And..I did a pretty fabulous job of it. So..on this trip...I wanted to REVISIT the Pollo Poblano to make sure it was still the food fiesta that I remembered. There was a little more of the sauce in the dish than I had previously, but the sauce is so creamy and lush, that I simply asked for a few plain masa tortillas to soak it all up. Accompanied by fluffy FLUFFY light rice and a small portion of refried black beans, this dish is worth the trip all by itself.
As loco as I am about the Pollo Poblano...Hubster is equally nuts about the MOLE at Xico. And...Mole is one of their specialties, having been featured on Emeril Live as one of the best. Hubster chose the Especial Mole Poblano, with organic chicken (both light and dark meat) in a Mole sauce the color of which is reminiscent of the darkest, most bricky brick you can imagine. Now, Mole done well is a foodster's fantasy, and the Mole here obviously does not disappoint. It should be called, in fact...HOLY Mole. Perhaps I will suggest it on our next visit. The staff already thinks I'm half crazy, snapping photos of all our dishes, and babbling away in my margarita induced delirium. So...my suggestion would come as no great surprise to them, I am sure. Chica Loca, as they say.
We skipped dessert this time, but I can attest that their flan is silken in texture and their churros are heavenly little crisp tunnels of cinnamon sugary happiness.
If you ever find yourself in Great Barrington? Eat here if you love Mexican. Hell--even if you DON'T find yourself in Great Barrington, this place is worth the trip. We are already planning our next visit as I pen this.
Winners: Pollo Poblano, Mole, Guacamole, hell..pretty much everything I've tasted here.
Scratches: NONE to report!